Series: The Glittering Edge #2
Published by Pyr on June 7th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Edge of Dark was one of the best books I read in 2015, and one of the novels I included in my 2016 Hugo nomination’s ballot. The reason I loved that story so much and kept thinking about and recommending it to other readers a full year after I finished it, was because of Cooper’s futurist ideas about transhumanism that brought the question”what does it mean to be a human?” to the focus. I was deeply hoping that Spear of Light would be a continuation of that and other futurist ideas, and it was, but this time, it took a back seat to the plot.
A few weeks have passed since events at the end of Edge of Dark. Charlie has negotiated the treaty with Next, and while the Next are keeping to themselves, the people of Lym are none too happy that the Next are there at all, regardless if they are keeping to their promise. And with this giant wall the Next are building around all of their territory, the people are close to revolting.
The people of Lym aren’t the only ones upset with the Next. While they are angry because they are on their planet, the people of the Shinning Revolution hate that Next even exist at all. After the actions of the Few Free Men ship, the Shinning Revolutions has an even greater following – in the millions – and they will stop at nothing to end the Next.
At this same time, Nona is coming to Lym as the official ambassador of Diamond Deep to see how the Next and Lym are doing – and how Charlie is. This will be the first time she has seen him since the system-wide vote, and the one night they made love.
Of the Next, Yi, Jason, Chrystal, and Katherine, are still considered the first of the new-generation of Next, and meant to be a type of ambassador and public-face of the Next to the humans. Even though Yi and them are higher in the chain of command than the newer converts and soulbots, they do not even know what the meaning of this new wall they are building is, nor why the Colorimas or Jhailings are on Lym, or what the Next’s ultimate goal is.
As you can tell from my brief blurb, the Spear of Light‘s plot heavily centers around the Next’s purpose on Lym, and has multiple threads in order to tell this story – more thread sand POVs than last time.
We still have Charlie’s and Nona’s perspective as last time. Charlie working to keep peace on Lym between the normal people, gleamers, and Next; and Nona working as the ambassador, a sort of relay point for information between Lym and Satyana on the Diamond Deep. Then there is Satyana as well. Her chapters serve to let us know of the happening in space with their war with Shinning Revolution, and allowed us to keep an eye on Gunnar and his money schemes.
The two new perspectives this time are Yi and Nayli. Nayli is a co-leader of the Shinning Revolution, and the person who “murdered” Chrystal at the end of Edge of Dark. With her, we finally get to see the inner working and motivations behind the Shinning Revolution. Yi is one of the members of Chrystal’s family. Yi gives us a better glimpse into how the humans turned soulbots turning into Next are handling the change, and gives a closer look (compared to Charles and the rest of the human) at what the Colorimas or Jhailings are up to.
You should have noticed two major things: one, there is no Chrystal POV; two, I am using the word “human” freely in this review. These changes are at the root of where I wish Cooper decided to take the story in a different direction.
Chrystal was central to the plot of Edge of Dark with her becoming of a Next, and the question of “what defines a human”, and after the ending of last book, I figured the consequences of that and the reactions it would cause would be central to Spear of Light as well. But it was not.
We do not get any new Chrystal chapters; we do no see how other characters react to the “new” Chrystal; her family members don’t seemed bothered by it, and we don’t get much of an explication why; even Nona’s meeting her is anti-climatic :/ The only place we see an effect of this “new” Chrystal is with Nayli. Nayli has a little moment with it in her first chapter, but by the end, she has decided that the Next truly aren’t human. And that is also the end of any of that “what defines a human” talk that was so central last time!
What Cooper does this time, is instead of focusing on one topic in depth, she focus on several issues with slight analysis. We have Yi and Jason, both of whom are becoming Next, but Yi has always been excited to become a Next and see what he can be capable of, while Jason still wants and misses being human. There is also now a Yi one and Yi two; and Jason one and Jason two. There is a love connection between a Next and a gleamer. The gap in communation/understading between Yi and the Colorimas /Jhailings mirrors the difficulty he is having talking with Charlie – even thought it has only been a few months since his change. EVERYTHING with the Shinning Revolution, and their belief that people should NOT become a Next (The Shiining Revolution is a perfect example of how close-minded, ignorant, inconsiderate, and childish some people can be because someone or something is “not like them” or because they believe that something else is wrong or not what their opinion is).
Every time one of these topics (these highly controversial topics) come into focus in the story, just as my appetite is wetted, and I think we are about to dive into it, exploring all the reasons and beliefs and opinions for each side(!), we simply keep on going, and move on the with plot :/
One thing this story is not is slow. Spear of Light is an excellent example of how to keep a story moving and the reader glued to the pages by constantly advancing the plot and always moving forward. But what I LOVED about Edge of Dark was how Cooper was able to move the plot, while also exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas of becoming a Next. Personally, and this may sound strange, but I felt Spear of Light was too focused on the plot and telling the story of why the Next are on Lym.
It would have been great to explore more of what happens if a gleamer and Next fell is love with each other! To see more in detail the difference between Yi and Jason with the changes they are undergoing, or use Yi’s gap with Colorimas/Jhailings to show how great a gap between him and Charlie! And I was waiting for someone to call the Shinning Revolution out for what they did and were doing, and why they were doing what the did (their close-mindedness)!
There are more topics this story touches than I just mention there and a few paragraphs earlier, and if Cooper had picked only one of these to be the focus and dig into…
As you can see from my rating, I really liked the book! No, it’s not as good as Edge of Dark, but it is still a very good book, and the ending – why the Next came to Lym – was excellent and a twist that I did not see.
It would be extremely remiss of me to not recommend and say that The Glittering Edge duology is a must read sic-fi series.